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Student Spotlight: Dana Varughese (BS '21)

Loyola Healthcare Administration student wins 3rd place in national essay competition

By Taylor Utzig

At a time when health care providers are stretched to the limit responding to a pandemic, students like Dana Varughese are recognizing the various challenges and finding innovative ways to help. As a senior in the Healthcare Administration (HCA) undergraduate program at the Parkinson School of Health Science and Public Health, Varughese recently tackled the complex topic of provider burnout in an essay for the Richard J. Stull Student Essay Competition.

“The essay competition allowed me to reflect on everything I’ve learned at Parkinson and during my internships” says Varughese. “It was exciting to look at the problem of provider burnout from so many different angles, especially in the context of COVID-19. It’s such a relevant topic.”

In her 14-page essay, Varughese examines the challenges hospital staff face due to the pandemic and lays out a plan to provide comprehensive support through therapy, lighting, architecture, and other services. Her ideas were compelling enough to secure her third place in the national competition.

“I’m proud of myself. It shows I can compete at this level,” she says. “At the end of the day, I want to be a better student. The whole experience was a great learning experience.” Varughese also recently took first place in the Penn State Case Competition as a member of the Parkinson HCA team. Assistant Professor John Brady, who led the Parkinson team to victory, and HCA Department Chair Marymargaret Sharp-Pucci have been two of Varughese’s greatest cheerleaders during her time at Parkinson.

"Her readiness to go beyond what is expected and her abiding sense of responsibility are a joy to observe," says Sharp-Pucci. "I have seen it in Dana’s classwork, her teamwork, and her tremendous initiative in building her experience base."

During her four years at Loyola, Varughese credits much of her growth to the continuous encouragement of Parkinson faculty like Sharp-Pucci. “They built my confidence by helping me set achievable goals,” says Varughese. “With their guidance, I was able to see health care administration in a different way and understand how I can add value to the field.”

After she graduates in Spring 2021 with her Bachelor of Science, Varughese looks forward to pursuing her Master of Science in Healthcare Administration at the University of Minnesota with the goal of eventually working in hospital administration and strategy. “At first, I wanted to bring value to the medical field as a nurse or a doctor, but then I realized the importance of administration in the delivery of care,” says Varughese. “I know my Parkinson education has better prepared me to be a more agile administrator.”